Updated date:

How to Grow and Care for Dahlias

Author:

Sofs is an amateur photographer who loves photographing nature. Gardening, like photography, is one of her passions.

Dahlia flowers are stunning show-stoppers in any garden, and there are more than 270,000 varieties of dahlias that are available today. These hardy plants are not fussy and can be grown in any kind of soil. They are easy to care for and come in a variety of exotic colors and shapes. Dahlias can be grown from seeds as well as tubers, though I would consider it a safe bet to grow them from the tubers. These are annuals and will last from late spring to summer.

The dahlia flower is the photographer's delight. The textures and the rich colors make even ordinary photographers like me look like specialists. Though they make wonderful cut flowers and gifts, your gift could last longer if presented as a potted plant. This guide will teach you how to grow and care for these wonderful plants.

How to Grow Dahlias

Any garden soil is good enough for dahlias. Add a little bit of fertilizer low in nitrogen into a pot of loam, moss, and sand, and you could grow dazzling dahlias that can be put the rest of your garden in the shade. Once the dahlias start blooming, even orchids have to take the second place.

Dahlias need plenty of sunshine though, at least about five to six hours a day. Plant the tubers in the sunniest part of your garden. Here in the tropics, they bloom twice a year.

When and How to Plant Your Dahlias

Dahlias can be potted in mid-spring. The tubers should not be buried too deep in the soil. It would be sufficient to have them planted in holes that are six inches deep and covered lightly with loam and peat moss.

These plants are suitable for small spaces as well, as they can be grown in pots. If you grow them in your garden, make sure you space the tubers well, giving 12–18 inches between each plant.

Tips and Tricks

  • Some dahlias grow quite tall and need to be supported with stakes, make sure that the stakes are a good six inches away from the plant so that you do not hurt the tuber. Pinching off the head of the plant allows new shoots and buds to form.
  • For gardeners who have space restrictions, the dwarf dahlias are a boon. These dwarfs are also suitable to be grown in large clumps and borders.
  • Dahlias can be made to bloom all through the season by cutting off the dried flower heads and allowing the plant to branch out further. Watering them frequently—not allowing the soil to dry out too much between watering—helps the dahlia plants to thrive.
  • When you harvest the flowers, make sure you cut close to the leaf joint. Cutting above the leaf joint encourages fresh growth and flowering.
  • If you want a huge bloom, pinch away the side shoots and buds, allowing only a few huge blooms to develop. This way you will have a huge—perhaps even a dinner plate-sized—dahlia in your garden.

Feeding Dahlia Plants and Preserving the Tubers

The stunning colors and textures of dahlias make them the delight of gardeners. Periodic feeding of fertilizer high in potassium ensures healthy blooms throughout the season. Deadheading also helps get more blooms.

The tubers could be dug up and preserved for the next season when the plant blackens and fades after the flowering season is over. Clean the tubers, dry them in a warm shady place (never directly under the sun), and store them with peat moss in perforated containers or bags during the long winter months. In tropical climates, you could just leave them in the ground, and they will spring back again in the next growing season.

Making Flowers Last

After cutting dahlia flowers for arrangements, you can make your dahlias last longer by placing the stems in a jar of hot water. Make sure you have at least 2 inches of the flower stalk in the water, not any more than that.

Allow the water to come to room temperature in a non-heated place before you arrange them. The immersed part of the stems look a little browned out, but the flowers last for almost a week and stay as gorgeous as ever in a vase.

Fun Facts About Dahlias

  • Did you know that dahlias are edible? However, I personally think that the ornamental value of the flower far outweighs its value as a food.
  • Dahlia tubers were first used in the treatment of diabetes.

These flowers bloom into the early autumn season, much long after your other blooms have faded. They will soon become your joy and your pride. Even if you are not a great gardener you will soon be looking forward to the season to take out the tubers and to get them growing in your garden. Happy dahlia days to you. :)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: The buds and flower heads of my dahlias became mushy and brown starting in late August. Can I save the tubers for next year, or should I consider them ruined due to the mushy brown flowers?

Answer: It shouldn't affect the tubers. If the plant is affected cut the affected portion and let it remain in the ground until the stump dries off. You could then harvest the tuber and preserve it for another season.

Question: Can I leave my tubers in the pot itself? Will they grow?

Answer: It depends on your climatic conditions. In the tropics, we leave them as they are and in due season the come right back. In colder climates, you may have to overwinter them.

© 2011 Sophie

Comments

ana on March 19, 2020:

Your article is too messy, you say you're in the tropics, but next you mention about spring. Then you say it lasts a week in a vase, then you say it stays gorgeous as ever. How can it be as gorgeous as ever if it only lasts a week? It seems like you just copy and pasted different articles about dahlia and put it altogether.

Muneer Ahmed on February 15, 2018:

Which season is best for dehlia plants here in Pakistan ???

hillickdenise42@gmail.com on September 18, 2017:

can I transplant some of my dahlia bulbs even when they are still blossoming?

Marta Ferguson on September 03, 2017:

I planted dahlias this year but have no flowers. Beautiful plant, healthy

What did I do wrong?

FERNANDO G. RODULFA on November 17, 2016:

Where can i buy dahlia roots here in the philippines

poetryman6969 on June 17, 2015:

Dahlia have always been one of my favorite flowers.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 29, 2015:

Beautiful hub and lovely photos! Dahlias are exquisite flowers. Thanks for sharing how to grow these beautiful flowers, too.

Ibidii on November 24, 2014:

Wonderful photos! I love Dahlias! We had them in our yard when I was a child. Mom would trade with others with the tubers for different varieties. Your first photo of the orange one with darker sprinkles of color is so unusual, I have never seen that one before! I think back in the 1950's we had about 10 varieties. There were probably more, but that is what we had. Great Hub!

photostudiosupply from Rochester, New York on October 16, 2012:

Very beautiful pics. I am sure that good photographic equipments were used for this photography.

Sophie (author) on May 11, 2012:

AmyEliza, Thanks for taking the time to stop by. I appreciate it very much. Have a lovely day.

AmyEliza from Toronto on May 10, 2012:

These are my favourite flowers. My Nana used to grow them in her garden. Glad I saw this post. Great insight!

Sophie (author) on March 29, 2012:

Mujtuba, I am honestly unaware of making different color combinations with a couple of tubers... but may be well worth the study.. will let you know if I come across such information.. Have a great day!

Sophie (author) on January 22, 2012:

Thanks Will for stopping by. Maybe someone will when they read this! I have written most of what I know here! Have a great day!

Will on January 22, 2012:

If anyone has any amazing facts about Dahlia please send it to gerawil@ncia.net. This is for a classroom project. Thank you WIll

Sophie (author) on January 15, 2012:

There you are spying my dahlia's !! Thanks for admiring them.. The dahlias are back again..but the buds seem much smaller this time.. I have already fixed the supports.. hopefully I will have more pictures to show.. Thanks for the hint.. Cutting out the side buds always ensure bigger flowers, but I would still take precautions with the support, who wants their baby to bend and break!! LOL . Thanks for you kind comment. have an awesome day!

natures47friend from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand. on January 15, 2012:

Such lovely photos. We used to have a large section and had lots of dahlias. I used to pick out the tiny buds to try and allow the bigger central bud to grow well. It did stop them bending and breaking until wind and rain would break the stems with the weight of the flowers.

Sophie (author) on October 22, 2011:

Thank you everyone for taking the time to look up my Dahlias and write a comment. I appreciate this very much, I honestly would love to respond personally, but that would go on forever.. Thank you and God Bless:)

Danette Watt from Illinois on October 21, 2011:

Your opening photo caught my attention and let me to reading your hub. (and all the photos are gorgeous). I bought a dahlia plant earlier this summer and it was so pretty. Unfortunately, we had a very hot summer and it got a bit neglected so it ended up dying. Congratulations on Hub of the Day.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on October 20, 2011:

Gorgeous Photographs! I love all of your tidbits and the vibrant colors you've captured.

Congratulations on a well deserved Hub of the Day!

Saranya on October 19, 2011:

Hats off to the photography and the idea of choosing this topic.

piya on October 19, 2011:

Great hub! It was entertaining as well as informative.

Rosalie21 from Mauritius on October 18, 2011:

Hi sofs, great hub with impressive photos!!! I'm sure these flowers must look like jewels in your garden...

starcraft2guides on October 18, 2011:

very nice, l like the pictures very much

Sophie (author) on October 18, 2011:

Wow, this is amazing.. I am so overwhelmed. I just want to tell everyone who has commented that this means a lot to me.. and I honestly appreciate your every comment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I wish I could write to each one separately but that seems a bit too much..since I am not in the best of health at the moment. I want each person to know that I greatly value your comments .

Thank you once again.

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on October 18, 2011:

I love Dahlias. These flowers are so beautiful. We have several varieties of Dahlia plants at my Parents place.

Kesinee on October 18, 2011:

I flasback to my childhood after I read your hub. There were many type of dahlias at the fench at my home and neighbors'. Vote up!!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on October 18, 2011:

Congratulations on Hub of the Day.

What a comprehensive and interesting hub about dahlias. I had no idea there were so many varieties of dahlias, or that they were edible, or that the dahlia tubers were first used in the treatment of diabetes.

Your photos are stunning and a great inspiration to go out and grow my own dahlias. Thanks so much for sharing this hub. Voted up across the board except for funny.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on October 18, 2011:

Dahlias are really gorgeous flowers, and you have taken some beautiful pictures to show off their beauty. Dahlias were one of my grandmother's favorite flowers.

Congratulations on hub of the day!

Carolyn Sands from Hollywood Florida on October 18, 2011:

Those flowers are soooo beautiful!!! Congratulations on being selected as hub of the day.

shea duane from new jersey on October 18, 2011:

lovely photos. great hub

Nicolette Goff from British Columbia on October 18, 2011:

Gorgeous photos of my favorite flowers. Great hub.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on October 18, 2011:

Congratulations on Hub of the Day! Your photographs are stunning! I always loved dahlias, but now I must grow them. You make it sound easy... Great hub!

Coopstar from Tallahassee, FL on October 18, 2011:

Wow, such beautiful flowers. Fantastic hub :)

Website Examiner on October 18, 2011:

Masterful work, from the champion of flower capturing!

c1234rystal on October 18, 2011:

Great hub. These flowers are so gorgeous and I had no idea that there were so many different kinds. You taught me a lot I didn't know.

Imogen French from Southwest England on October 18, 2011:

Well done on your hub of the day, an interesting piece with stunning pictures - your dahlias are absolutely beautiful!

Can I just remind readers that the single-petalled varieties of dahlia are better for bees and other nectar feeding insects than the pom-pom or double-flowered varieties, so it's a good idea to include some single types in your collection. They might not be quite as showy, but are still very beautiful.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 18, 2011:

Great tips and beautiful photos! This is a wonderful resource. Congrats on getting Hub of the Day!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on October 18, 2011:

Congrats on your hub being chosen as Hub of The Day! I have always loved dahlia's but never knew that they were edible.

I've always stored the tubers in a brown paper bag in my basement. Do you think that this hurts them at all?

LindaSmith1 from USA on October 18, 2011:

I have heard my grandmother mention them, but I do not rememember her growing any. She probably did. But the pics show a beautiful flower. I wonder if flower boxes work well with these plants. I would assume they do not grow well in rocky soil.

Marylol from Dublin, Ireland on October 18, 2011:

Voted up!!! Love the hub :)

RTalloni on October 18, 2011:

Congrats on Hub of the Day--I should have seen it coming. Looking at the photos again--just amazingly beautiful. Such a special flower that you've highlighted!

Mazlan from Malaysia on October 18, 2011:

Beautiful photos. I didn't know that you can place cut flowers in hot water..wouldn't it damaged the stalk?

Elissa Joyce from US on October 18, 2011:

Great hub, Voted up.

vasantha T k from Bangalore on October 18, 2011:

'Lovely flowers and beautiful pictures and a nice hub for the day' Best wishes

dabneylewis from Boston on October 18, 2011:

great hub and lovvely flowers....

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 18, 2011:

Beautiful flowers! Excellent hub! Congrats on hub of the day! :)

tamarindcandy on October 18, 2011:

That's fantastically pretty, I never realized dahlias were so beautiful.

misterumbe from Calapan City, Philippines on October 18, 2011:

thanks for sharing...beautiful

Abeer Gh from UK on October 18, 2011:

Great hub :), really worthy of being the hub of the day!love the dahlia pictures.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on October 18, 2011:

Congratulations on your hub of the day. My husband use to grow dahlias and they were beautiful. They soon became one of my favorites. I didn't know they were edible though, interesting hub.

Leeba Ann Varghese from India on October 18, 2011:

Loved those pictures..so nice that u have all these at your garden..

Movie Master from United Kingdom on October 18, 2011:

Hello sofs, Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

Best wishes MM

asmaiftikhar from Pakistan on October 18, 2011:

beautiful pictures keep it up!

TattooKitty from Hawaii on October 18, 2011:

Stunning photos and a delightful topic! Dahlia blossoms are truly inspiring! Thanks for brightening my day with their beauty ;)

P.S. Kudos on being chosen Hub of the Day!

Sophie (author) on September 22, 2011:

Thank you RTalloni, dahlias are beautiful and are truly photogenic. Thank you for the read and comment, I hope you are inspired enough until the next season.. :) Best wishes to you!!

RTalloni on September 21, 2011:

These are beautiful photos! I love dahlias, but have trouble growing them. I want them in my garden and to use as cut flowers, though, so you've made me start planning for next year now so I can maybe have better success. Thanks so much for sharing these and for the tips and tricks!

Gorgeous--voted up and bookmarked.

Sophie (author) on September 12, 2011:

Thank you Tsmog, Darknlovely and MsDora. It is a pleasure to hear form you. I appreciate the read and the comments. God Bless!!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 06, 2011:

Beautiful content, beautiful pictures. Thanks for this sharing these useful facts on dahlias. Voted up and useful.

Annie from NewYork on September 06, 2011:

Great Hub,lovely flowers

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on September 06, 2011:

Great Article, brought a smile to me as I peeked through the home office window looking at my dahlia. I never pull up the tubers, yet it blooms every year. It is a favorite.

Sophie (author) on September 03, 2011:

D.A.L you are such a generous soul.. thank you for the encouragement and comment. I shall never forget that your pictures and hubs have been my early inspiration in this direction. My request still remains.. come back to Hubpages :)

Dave from Lancashire north west England on September 02, 2011:

sofs, once again you have come up with a masterpiece of information enhanced by fantastic and beautiful images. you never fail to impress. Thank you for sharing.

Sophie (author) on August 29, 2011:

Snakeslane, thanks for sharing. It is okay to leave the tubers in the soil as long as they are protected, but you will find the size of the flowers becoming smaller with years and the blooms reducing in number. Storing them with peat moss as mentioned will help your tubers remain fresh and not dry out as they do when left in the open. I hope you find a way of having your dahlias bloom well for you year after year. Thanks for the sharing and the comment :)

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on August 27, 2011:

Nice read and great photos, thanks. Where I live it's tricky trying to keep Dahlia tubers over winter. If we store them outside they freeze, and if we bring them inside they dry out. Really need a perfect spot, like a cool basement that's not too damp to get them through the winter. Some just leave them in the ground and pile mulch on top. If planted near the house this sometimes works.

Sophie (author) on August 26, 2011:

Mar, thanks for the comment.. Ha dahlias..those dahlings always make you smile.. and yes so do Kylie and teddy :)

Have a great day yourself :)

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 25, 2011:

sofs,

This is a beautiful smile maker, especially when I thought of the latest friend Kylie and Teddy had made in my series. You have such a gift with floral photography and the sharing of information.

Voted UP & UABI-- have a peaceful day, mar.

Sophie (author) on August 24, 2011:

Movie Master, knowing your love for flowers, it is a pleasure to hear from you.. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment :)

Sophie (author) on August 24, 2011:

TajSingh, I am glad you liked the pictures and hope you are inspired enough to grow some Dahlias yourself. It is great to hear from you ;) Thank you :)

Sophie (author) on August 24, 2011:

Paradise .. they are very easy to grow.. and I can assure you that your reward will be indeed handsome :) Very handsome :)

Sophie (author) on August 24, 2011:

Ruby my dear, I am glad that you know it now, in time to get the tubers ready for the next season. thank you for the comment and the visit, you know it is always appreciated greatly. Cheers :)

Sophie (author) on August 24, 2011:

Fotographer, thank you for the comment.. there is always room for improvement. I am still learning.. and appreciate all inputs .. thank you :)

Sophie (author) on August 24, 2011:

Mega1, thanks for the read. I am glad that you love Dahlias so much. Here is one more tip, wash (without scrubbing) the tubers and dry and preserve them until the next season.. the plant your tubers in early spring in pots that can be taken indoors if there is a threat of frost and move the plants to your garden once they have grown big enough to transplant them. This way you will have a longer flowering season and bigger flowers can be obtained by pinching off some of the branches and buds. Good nutrition and watering is the key. Letting the tubers be in the ground causes them to divide faster, you end up having more them but too weak and less productive for the next season.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on August 24, 2011:

Hi Sofs, oh how I love your love of flowers!

Your hubs and photos are amazing, thank you for sharing your hub of one of my favourite flowers.

TajSingh from United Kingdom on August 23, 2011:

Hi sofs. Thanks for the guide on growing dahlias. Nice photos by the way.

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on August 23, 2011:

Lovely, lovely flowers. And they do sound really quite easy to grow! What could be better than that?

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 23, 2011:

sofs, Dahlias are very beautiful. Your article is informative. I didn't know you could store them in peat moss in winter months, nor did i know they were edible, not that i would ever eat them, i'd much rather look at them. Thank you for sharing.

Cheers

Fotographer on August 23, 2011:

Impressive macro photography!

Although this is wonderfully done, but there is always a room for improvement!

mega1 on August 23, 2011:

I adore my dahlias - they are a miracle. They and the lilies are real show stoppers. I didn't know I was supposed to take them up and put them in peat moss, maybe that explains why some are a bit smaller this year. I left them in the ground for 2 years. I have photos of mine too, they seem to invite closeups. For little effort they sure do a wonderful job of brightening our world. Thanks for this lovely hub.

Sophie (author) on August 23, 2011:

Peggy , I appreciate the quick read and the comment. Glad you found the photographs of the show stopping dahlias beautiful :). Thank you for taking the time to comment :)

Sophie (author) on August 23, 2011:

Rosemay, thank you for pointing out the mistake, I have edited it. It may have been the famous Freudian slip as they say, a single healthy dahlia plant has been known to have hundreds of blooms, truly booming with buds and flowers. I am glad that you found it useful. Thank you for the comment and the editing help, truly appreciate it :)

Sophie (author) on August 23, 2011:

Diane Lockridge, Thanks for that very encouraging comment. I truly appreciate the vote up too. God Bless!!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 23, 2011:

Wonderful photos of your show-stopping dahlias! I used to grow the tall ones up north years ago. They are truly beautiful. Thanks!

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on August 23, 2011:

This is a great hub and the photos are just amazing. The information you give is excellent. How to keep the tubers over winter was a really handy tip, I didn't know how to do this.

I'm sorry but I must admit I did have a giggle when I read "Once the dahlias start booming even orchids have to take the second place" I think you mean 'blooming'

Voted up

Diane Lockridge from Atlanta, GA on August 23, 2011:

Great hub! Interesting info and BEAUTIFUL photos. Good job, voted up!